They’re my rights too!

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too. ~ Voltaire, from Essay on Tolerance

I am a defender of personal freedoms.  I may not always agree with what you say or how you say it, but I do believe in a world where you’re allowed to express it.  However, with those freedoms comes the responsibility of being accountable for what you say.  As well, I also believe that your freedom to express yourself becomes invalid when it infringes on the personal freedoms of others.  Now, I realize that this leaves a lot of room for gray area, but I believe that there are certain clear cut cases.

Third National Flag of CSAFor example, around the corner from where I live there is a house with a large flagpole in the backyard that displays a flag bearing the ol’ “Stars and Bars” of Confederacy fame.  Specifically, it is the Third National Flag of the Confederate States of America, or the one pictured to the right.  Now, I am not a fan of this person’s display of such a symbol of hatred and bigotry and every time I pass by I imagine how little this person understands the offensiveness of such a flag.  Still, I wouldn’t dare ask this person to remove the flag that obviously means a great deal to them, as it does not affect my freedoms.  I’m free to ignore the flag; I’m free to think this person is an idiot…also, this person has every freedom guaranteed by the flag he/she chooses NOT to fly.  My point is, so long as this person doesn’t try to “resurrect the South” in my neighborhood and reinstitute lynchings as a part of his/her recreational activities, then the flag is fine by me.

Now, on to the actual reason for my post.  Today, at my job, a group of citizens decided to erect a display against genocide.  The display was graphic in its representation and the citizens stood in the rain to hand out pamphlets speaking out against this particular threat to society.  All well and good until you realize that the “genocide” the speak of is abortion.  This is not the first time I’ve been accosted visually by this band of protesters.  They seem to feel that their message of simply speaking and handing out material is no longer effective.  They must shock and disgust you into believing their propaganda.  I did not take a pamphlet; I hurried past the display that was at least 10-15 feet tall and covered a wide swath of ground including its barricade gates.  My point is that the display is an affront to my personal freedoms.  Regardless of how I feel about abortion, I should not be subjected to graphic displays of such.  Yes, I could close my eyes, but that is not efficient or effective.  Not to mention the fact that as abortion is still legal in this country, and genocide isn’t…I’m not sure what they’re on about.  You never see them protesting the death penalty and it’s much more heinous than abortion, while still being technically the same.  Also, genocide generally refers to the killing of a large group of people of a particular ethnic group or nation.  Abortion only VERY loosely follows this definition, so they’re simply skewing the language to spread their propaganda to a wider ill-informed, and possibly more naive, audience.

To summarize, I’m bound by the Constitution of this nation that I call home to allow these weasels to speak their evil and distribute their poison, but I’ll be damned if I think that this should include assaulting me with graphic images that do not inform or create sympathy.  They’re simply there for shock value and it invades my personal freedom.  Feel free to disagree with me and as always, I’m open to competing arguments that take logical and rational form.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. ~ S.G. Tallentyre (usually attributed to Voltaire)

See you in the funny papers!

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Have we heard nothing, or are we just not listening?

For those of you who did not hear or read Barack Obama’s comments on race in this country, please go here now and absorb.

For those of you who did hear Barack Obama, can you imagine how a silly thing like a magazine cover garners such racial divisiveness? Here’s more on what I’m talking about:

NEW YORKWhen Vogue announced its April cover starring LeBron James and Gisele Bundchen, the magazine noted with some fanfare that James was the first black man to grace its cover.

But the image is stirring up controversy, with some commentators decrying the photo as perpetuating racial stereotypes. James strikes what some see as a gorilla-like pose, baring his teeth, with one hand dribbling a ball and the other around Bundchen’s tiny waist.

It’s an image some have likened to “King Kong” and Fay Wray. …more of the article…

To imagine that a fashion magazine cover, photographed by arguably one of the most famous photographers, is under fire for some racial connotation conjured by commentators after this brilliant discourse on race in this country is absurd. Blatantly absurd. Apparently a very slow news day if this is the sort of thing that warrants discussion.

I have very little in the way of contributing any more eloquently to what Senator Obama has to say on the subject. However, I will say this. If we as a country are prepared to advance any further as a society, we’re going to have to move past this stumbling block. I’m not saying forget it; I’m not saying relegate it to a historical dustbin merely to be resurrected on an arbitrary month as patronizing deference to a proud people. I’m saying that it needs to be dealt with, understood, and then we need to move on. And one way to move on is not to characterize a photo of a black man and a white woman in a fashion magazine as communicating a “King Kong” vibe.

In other news, how about those Louisville Cardinals? Taking on all comers in this NCAA tournament. Earl Clark is a monster…a big basketball eating monster. His numbers are magnificent in this tournament and I’m of the opinion that if he gains 10 to 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason that he could challenge for the Naismith Award next season. His wingspan is ridiculous. He’s like a rebounding pterodactyl out there. Simply stunning. But the main thing is that they’re all playing as a team…every one of them. I say let Hansbrough and friends bring it! North Carolina is going down!

And finally, because it’s been so long…how about a 55Fiction for Friday?

Jonas placed his hand against the cold glass of the window.  Absently stroking the cat, he gazed out into the sunny day.  The shade of the great oak in the yard beckoned.  He imagined a light nap in his hammock with a cool refreshing lemonade.  “Well, Dudley, ” he said wearily “that grass won’t cut itself.”

See you in the funny papers!

160 to go

YAAAWWWWWWPPPPP! I scream with a primal urgency like a sweaty-toothed madman. Why?! It’s baseball season. There’s no other good reason…at least not yet.*

My boys, the champions of Beantown, opened the season with an extra-inning affair in the Tokyo Dome. Now, I’m not altogetherYankee Stadium wild about the idea of opening the season in another country. It’s not xenophobia, but it does seem a bit un-American. I mean, we don’t call it our national pastime for no reason. Still and all, the Red Sox came away with a victory in the opener calling on brand new faces as well as the old familiar ones. Of course, they lost the second game this morning, with Manny providing the only run support, but there is still the opportunity for them to go 161-1 for the season. Unlikely, but it would be sweet.  Also, the picture to the right is of Yankee Stadium because that’s what I have the best photo of…so Angie and Gleemonex, enjoy!  Pshaw, Yankees fans! {eye roll}

In other news, my ankle is progressing nicely. I have complete range of motion (more so than the therapist apparently) and the strength is coming back fairly quickly. I do have a little problem with balance still, but that’s expected and I’m working on it. I should be back to fast walking within a couple of weeks and a light jog/run by the first part of May.  I’m already back to cycling to work which has been absolutely exhilarating after the long layoff.

School is winding up rapidly. I can see the finish line on this one folks, and those of you who know me know what a long, strange trip it has been. I’m wrapping up my senior thesis, hopefully this week. I have a presentation to do on the second week of April which should be a piece of cake now that the thesis itself is written. I don’t get too nervous doing these presentations, but we’ll see how it goes.  Graduation is on May 10 and I can’t wait to appear in my cap and gown…the culmination of years of endurance.

That about covers it.  See you in the funny papers!

*I suppose I can foresee a time when a good reason for a primal scream would be graduation, or maybe the birth of a child, but they will most certainly be reserved for extremely special occasions.

What you don’t know…could it hurt?

This article from BBC News is a little old, but interesting nonetheless.  It details news items that we were unaware of until last year.  I’d like to highlight just a few of them:

  • Cloudy apple juice is healthier than clear, containing almost double the antioxidants which protect against heart disease and cancer.  Well, I’ve always like cloudy better.  It’s more of an apple cider and it just seems better for you.  Like you’re getting the best of the apple.  But for whatever reason, it seems like it’s easier to get clear apple juice in the store.  The cloudy seems to only be available in the fall.
  • Antony and Cleopatra were ugly. Well, that’s a little harsh.  And isn’t ugly fairly relative?  I mean, maybe they were good looking for their time.  Or maybe they just had good spa treatments.  Maybe that Egyptian sun and surf was a little harder on the skin than previously thought.  Wow, who would’ve thought that Cleopatra would soon be a marketing ploy for SPF?
  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hosts a daily radio phone-in show.  I just can’t see President Bush doing this…unless it was to collect names and phone numbers for future torture interrogation victims participants via warrantless wire tapping approved methods of data collection.  Of course, if you’re Hugo Chavez, you can probably just have hecklers executed immediately.  I’m not sure of how the laws work exactly in Venezuela, but I’m of the opinion that our laws are headed in that direction.
  • There is mobile phone reception from the summit of Mount Everest.  Well, thank goodness. I’d hate to get all the way to the top and not be able to call someone and let them know where I was…like a complete asshole.  “Hey, you’ll never guess where I’m calling from…”  From now on, my answer to that question will be Mount Everest just to preemptively deflate someone’s ego.  Plus, can you imagine the Verizon commercial…”can you hear me now?”
  • Anti-Americanism began in Paris in the 18th Century.  So they beat us at our own game by about 3 centuries.  Interesting.  Some might say that they were still keeping it going, but I’ve been to Paris and I don’t believe that’s true.
  • King Tut had buck teeth.  Wow!  Not a good year for the Egyptians.
  • The brain can turn down its ability to see in order to listen to complex sounds like music.  Okay, this one makes sense.  Don’t tell me you’ve never turned down the radio in your car in order to see street signs or house numbers better.  It all clicks now, so much so, that it doesn’t sound dumb when you say “Turn that down, I can’t see!”
  • A bdelloid rotifer is a pond-dwelling organism that has survived 80 million years without sex.  Survived, yes;  enjoyed no!  But this does at least mean there’s hope for thousands of high school teenagers who were just like me.
  • Bees can detect explosives.  Yeah, but it’s so hard to keep them on the leash at the airport.  Can you imagine the TSA checkpoint at the airport…”Ma’am, please step through the metal detector AND the beehive…SLOWLY ma’am!”

So there you have it.  I don’t have a 55Fiction today.  I just can’t think of anything snappy.  But hopefully, next Friday I’ll be back in short story mode.  Enjoy the snow if you’re getting it…I’m at work.

See you in the funny papers!